Winter can be a time that makes us all feel under the weather. Like us, our pets also notice the cold. Here is what to look out for with your pet in Winter.
Dr Roslyn Lui of Greencross Vets Werribee warns about the effects of the cold on arthritis sufferers. ‘As with humans, the cold weather can make arthritis symptoms worse,’ says Dr Roslyn Lui. ‘The first thing to look out for is a decrease in activity levels that could be due to an animal’s discomfort,’ she says. Book a health check with your local Greencross Vets if you’re concerned about your pet’s health.
Shelter from the cold
Adequate warmth and shelter are essential in combating the cold weather. Dr Lui reminds us – ‘You have to make sure your pet has adequate shelter and warmth. It may seem obvious, but double check that pets can safely shelter themselves from wet weather and wind.’ Some very old pets with severe joint disease or senility may not have the capacity to remove themselves from the elements.
It’s also worthwhile to give pets warmer, padded bedding and more blankets so they can escape the cold. Know your pet – this is especially important for short-haired dogs that live outside. Breeds such as whippets can feel the cold more than other dogs.
Another option is to purchase a jacket or clothing to keep your pet warm if they feel comfortable wearing them. Also, consider bringing your pet inside at night if they’re older or a short-haired breed.
As we tend to stray away from exercise in colder weather, we may forget our pets’ activity needs. Decreased activity without a change in diet may impact your pet’s metabolism. Dr Lui thinks ‘In Wintertime, many people won’t exercise their dogs as much as in the Spring or Summer with the beautiful weather. If you know your dog will be getting less exercise – even if it means reducing the length or frequency of walks – remember to adjust their diet to avoid Winter weight gain.’
The same goes for cats, which can become less inclined to exercise or venture outside in winter. Ensure you’re exercising your cat regularly with playtime, and adjust their diet to align with activity levels.
Exercising in Winter
The cooler weather doesn’t mean our pets won’t enjoy exercise as much. ‘Most pets are happy to participate in regular exercise routines if they’re enjoying company with their owners,’ says Dr Roslyn. ‘Again, it’s good to be aware that they could be slower than normal, particularly if they’re old or have arthritis. Steady exercise and a good warm-up will prevent injury.’
If your pet is slower than usual, or acts sluggish or like they’re in pain – all of which can be exacerbated by colder weather – ensure you talk to your local Greencross Vets . If you book a checkup, your vet can also advise you about treatment for conditions such as arthritis, and about diet and exercise for your pet.